Today is one of the best day of the year: the international French Fries Day. But let’s find out something about most people’s favourite guilty pleasure.
Apparently, French fries are not French at all. Their origin can be tracked back to Belgium, where potatoes were allegedly being fried in the late-1600s. The legend says that poor villagers in Meuse Valley used to eat small fried fish they caught in the river but, as the river would freeze during winter, they had to find an alternative source of food. When the potato was introduced in the continent, the villagers began preparing the root plant in the same way they used to treat the fish: slicing and frying it. And this is how the earliest “French” fries were born.
So, how come they’re called FRENCH fries? It seems that it’s Americans’ fault. When American soldiers were stationed in Belgium during World War I they were introduced to the fried goodness and, as the official language spoken by the Belgian army was French, they started calling it “French fries”. As most misunderstandings in history, once the name was spread there was no way to correct it. And we still call them “French” after centuries, and will probably keep on doing so for quite a while.
But is this a mistake that only English speakers make? Let’s have a look on how everybody’s favourite side dish is called in different countries.
France/Belgium (French): les pommes frites / les frites
Belgium (Dutch): friet/fritten
China: 薯条 shu tiao (potato stripe or stick)
Czech Republic: hranolky (little prisms)
Finland: ranskalaiset perunat (French potatoes) or ranskalaiset (French)
Germany: Pommes / pommesfrites
Greece: τηγανιτές πατάτες tiganites patates
Italy: patatine fritte
Japan: フライドポテト furaido poteto (Fried potatoes)
Korea: 감자 튀김 Gamja twigim
Latin America: papas fritas
Columbia/Mexico: papas a la francesa
Portugal: batatas fritas
Romania: (Belgian) cartofi prajiti
Russia: картофелем фри kartofel’ fri
Sweden: franske kartofler (French potatoes)
The Netherlands (Dutch): patat frites / Vlaamse friet (Flemish fries)